Spotlight: Adaptation is Now Key When Recruiting Top Finance Executives

September 22, 2021 –

Jeanne Branthover is managing partner of the global financial services practice and North American executive committee member at DHR International. She closely partners with her global clients on senior level searches personally managing each assignment. Known for her hands-on approach she consults with her clients on succession planning, organizational change, precision hiring and talent management. Ms. Branthover has recruited across industries and functions identifying boards, C-suite and senior level decision makers, with an emphasis on building diverse leadership.

Ms. Branthover recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss the current state of executive recruiting for senior-level finance executives, how the market has changed and what she sees going forward.

Jeanne, discuss the current climate for recruiting senior executives for the financial services sector.

We are busier than ever in the financial services sector, both domestically and globally. Companies are hiring as they are looking to take market share, build superior talent, create new innovative products, and refine their focus on client service and business development. Here are some examples of where DHR is seeing clients hiring:

  • In the C-suite, to ensure they have leaders that fit today’s world – specifically, chief revenue officers and chief commercial officers to mitigate risk and ensure compliance.
  • In technology, to address historic cyber security issues, particularly with a remote work force.
  • Foreign firms hiring CEOs of the Americas to expand into the U.S. across the sector.
  • Diversity and inclusion has become an important focus and requirement for board searches and senior leadership roles.

What role has COVID played in all of this?

As with all industries, COVID hit and it took some time to adjust to all employees working remotely, not seeing clients in person and working productively in the new “Zoom world.” It did not take financial services companies long to figure this out finding a new way of doing “business as usual.” At first, all hiring was put on hold because no one was sure how long the pandemic would last. But once we realized the severity, clients jumped to make sure they had the talent needed to stay competitive, and began hiring without meeting candidates in person.

How have candidates adjusted?

Candidates adjusted well and began accepting offers without visiting offices, understanding the culture, or even meeting their bosses in person. The world changed and the industry quickly adapted. Now the question is how flexible will the industry be in allowing employees to work remotely? Some are making it mandatory to come back full time in the office, while others are saying it is ok to work remotely. This decision will impact firms’ ability to attract and retain talent, and may prove to be a competitive advantage for some firms.

What challenges does the financial services sector face and what do you see moving forward?

The financial services sector has changed drastically through technology – digitalization, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science, data analytics, etc. We see a shift where technology touches all parts of financial services and candidates need to be tech savvy – not just in tech roles but in all functions. The skills needed to excel in every role have changed. And the need to hire the talent with these digital skills is critical to be competitive in the market.

How has DHR performed during and coming out of the pandemic?

DHR has worked closely with our clients throughout the pandemic to change our search process to meet their hiring needs through more video interviews, utilizing assessment tools, and thorough reference checking. Clients have trusted our process to ensure successful hiring without in person meetings. Throughout the pandemic and now coming out of it, leadership roles have continued to be the focus. Leaders who can motivate a remote team, who have exceptional communication skills, who can generate revenue are in high demand.

What positions and types of roles have you found most in demand?

Across the sector we have seen an increase in hiring from banks, investment firms, private equity, and insurance. Fintech has been a huge area of growth from startups to large firms that are hiring across functions, including: C-suite, technology, product marketing, data analytics, sales, finance, regulatory and compliance executives.

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